September 24, 2006 – September 30, 2006
“As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever. Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness.” 11 Corinthians 9:9, 10.
Study Help: The Acts of the Apostles, 87–90.
“Christ is to be our pattern and example in all things, and if we follow his example, we shall avoid following the spendthrifts, whose example is so contagious to both young and old. We should make it a rule to bind about our wants, remembering that every penny belongs to the Lord, to be used not for wantonness, not for display, not in extravagance; for this would be an abuse of the Lord’s goods, but for actual necessities. There are obligations to the poor and needy laid upon us, and to spend money simply for the gratification of some extravagant taste is not in God’s order; for it prohibits us from doing good to those who are in need. Those in moderate circumstances are to bind about their wants, that they may also give out their talents to the exchangers, and those who have been blessed with large talents, who have abundance, should lay upon themselves the same restrictions, and guard against the needless expenditure of means for selfish gratification. The Lord has made them stewards of his means, and he designs that they should bless the needy, care for the poor, help the widow and the orphan, and send the light of the truth to those who sit in darkness.” Review and Herald, December 19, 1893.
1 What prominence did the apostles give to caring for the poor and widows? Acts 6:1–6.
note: “These Grecians were residents of other countries, where the Greek language was spoken. By far the larger number of converts were Jews who spoke Hebrew; but these had lived in the Roman Empire, and spoke only Greek. Murmurings began to rise among them that the Grecian widows were not so liberally supplied as the needy among the Hebrews. Any partiality of this kind would have been grievous to God; and prompt measures were taken to restore peace and harmony to the believers.
“The Holy Spirit suggested a method whereby the apostles might be relieved from the task of apportioning to the poor, and similar burdens, so that they could be left free to preach Christ.” The Story of Redemption, 259.
“Men are appointed to proclaim the truth in new places. These men must have funds for their support. And they must have a fund to draw upon for the help of the poor and needy whom they meet in their work. The benevolence that they show toward the poor gives influence to their efforts to proclaim the truth. Their willingness to help those in need gains for them the gratitude of those they help and the approval of Heaven.—Letter 32, 1903.” Welfare Ministry, 275.
2 What was connected with the giving of the right hand of fellowship to the apostles? Galatians 2:9, 10.
note: “When others see that you are determined to be right yourselves, they will see that the truth of God has an influence upon your life and character; then you will be a bright light to the world. I [Ellen White] beg of you to seek most earnestly to be a help to others, complying with the conditions in the Word of God, ‘Learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.’ [Matthew 11:29.]
“The trouble with many is [that] they have lost sight of Jesus. [They] fail to see the self-denial and love and mercy in His character, and therefore they do not imitate His life. But Jesus wants us to be one with Him, as He was one with the Father, and He wants us to be united one with another. We want to show to the world that we have a faith that is elevating, that makes us kind, courteous, self-denying, and begets in us love and reverence for God, and makes us Christian ladies and gentlemen.” Sermons and Talks, vol. 2, 22.
3 What provision was made for the poor, stranger, widow, and fatherless in the law of Moses? Deuteronomy 14:28, 29; 26:12, 13.
note: “The Lord had commanded Israel, through Moses, that every third year a tithe be raised for the benefit of the poor; and a further provision had been made in the suspension of agricultural labor every seventh year, the land lying fallow, its spontaneous products being left to those in need. Faithfulness in devoting these offerings to the relief of the poor and to other benevolent uses would have tended to keep fresh before the people the truth of God’s ownership of all, and their opportunity to be channels of blessing. It was Jehovah’s purpose that the Israelites should have a training that would eradicate selfishness, and develop breadth and nobility of character.” Prophets and Kings, 646, 647.
4 What arrangement was made for the poor in the time of harvest? Leviticus 19:9, 10.
note: “The law of God gave the poor a right to a certain portion of the produce of the soil. When hungry, a man was at liberty to go to his neighbor’s field or orchard or vineyard, and eat of the grain or fruit to satisfy his hunger. . . .
“All the gleanings of harvest field, orchard, and vineyard, belonged to the poor. . . .
“Every seventh year special provision was made for the poor. The sabbatical year, as it was called, began at the end of the harvest. At the seedtime, which followed the ingathering, the people were not to sow; they should not dress the vineyard in the spring; and they must expect neither harvest nor vintage. Of that which the land produced spontaneously they might eat while fresh, but they were not to lay up any portion of it in their storehouses. The yield of this year was to be free for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and even for the creatures of the field. Exodus 23:10, 11; Leviticus 25:5.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 531.
5 By heeding this provision, who became one of the progenitors of Christ? Ruth 2:1–3; 4:13–17.
note: “Of Christ’s relation to His people, there is a beautiful illustration in the laws given to Israel. When through poverty a Hebrew had been forced to part with his patrimony, and to sell himself as a bondservant, the duty of redeeming him and his inheritance fell to the one who was nearest of kin. See Leviticus 25:25, 47–49; Ruth 2:20. So the work of redeeming us and our inheritance, lost through sin, fell upon Him who is ‘near of kin’ unto us. It was to redeem us that He became our kinsman. Closer than father, mother, brother, friend, or lover is the Lord our Saviour. ‘Fear not,’ He says, ‘for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.’ ‘Since thou wast precious in My sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.’ Isaiah 43:1, 4.” The Desire of Ages, 327.
6 What difference does Jehovah make between lending to their brethren and lending to strangers? Deuteronomy 23:19, 20.
note: “I was shown that the subject of taking usury should be considered by Sabbathkeepers. Wealthy men have no right to take interest from their poor brethren, but they may receive usury from unbelievers. . . .
“God has been displeased with Sabbathkeepers for their avaricious spirit. Their desire to get gain is so strong that they have taken advantage of poor, unfortunate brethren in their distress and have added to their own already abundant means, while these poorer brethren have suffered for the same means.” Testimonies, vol. 1, 534, 535.
7 What are among the characteristics of those who dwell in the city of God? Psalm 15:1, 5.
note: “Always kind, courteous, ever taking the part of the oppressed, whether Jew or Gentile, Christ was beloved by all. By His perfect life and character, He answered the question asked in the fifteenth Psalm: ‘Lord, who shall abide in Thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in Thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.’ [Verses 1, 2.] In childhood and youth His course was such that when engaged in work as a teacher, He could say to His disciples, ‘If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love: even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.’ [John 15:10.]
“As Christ grew older, the work begun in His childhood went on, and He continued to increase in wisdom, and in favor with God and man. He did not take the part of His own family merely because they were related to Him by natural ties; He would not vindicate their case in a single instance where they had been guilty of injustice or wrong; but He ever vindicated that which He knew to be truth.” Fundamentals of Christian Education, 402.
“The knowledge of God as revealed in Christ is the knowledge that all who are saved must have. This is the knowledge that works transformation of character. Received into the life, it will re-create the soul in the image of Christ. This is the knowledge that God invites His children to receive, beside which all else is vanity and nothingness.
“In every generation and in every land the true foundation for character building has been the same—the principles contained in the word of God. The only safe and sure rule is to do what God says. ‘The statutes of the Lord are right,’ and ‘he that doeth these things shall never be moved.’ Psalms 19:8; 15:5. It was with the word of God that the apostles met the false theories of their day, saying, ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid.’ 1 Corinthians 3:11.” The Acts of the Apostles, 475.
8 Where does the responsibility of caring for widows first rest? 1 Timothy 5:16.
note: “Our church members are greatly in need of a knowledge of practical godliness. They need to practice self-denial and self-sacrifice. They need to give evidence to the world that they are Christlike. Therefore the work that Christ requires of them is not to be done by proxy, placing on some committee or some institution the burden that they themselves should bear. They are to become Christlike in character by giving of their means and time, their sympathy, their personal effort, to help the sick, to comfort the sorrowing, to relieve the poor, to encourage the desponding, to enlighten souls in darkness, to point sinners to Christ, to bring home to hearts the obligation of God’s law.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 263, 264.
9 What assurance is given to those who give to the poor? 11 Corinthians 9:9, 10.
note: “It means much to sow beside all waters. It means a continual imparting of gifts and offerings. God will furnish facilities so that the faithful steward of His entrusted means shall be supplied with a sufficiency in all things, and be enabled to abound to every good work. [11 Corinthians 9:9, 10 quoted.] The seed sown with full, liberal hand is taken charge of by the Lord. He who ministers seed to the sower gives His worker that which enables him to co-operate with the Giver of the seed.
“The Lord now calls upon Seventh-day Adventists in every locality to consecrate themselves to Him and to do their very best, according to their circumstances, to assist in His work. By their liberality in making gifts and offerings, He desires them to reveal their appreciation of His blessings and their gratitude for His mercy.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 132.